Sometimes, a mouse can move a mountain. That is what officials from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) found when the Large Hadron Collider, which is the world’s “most powerful” atom smasher, got shut down when a weasel-like rodent decided to try eating one of its power cables.
The furry animal was discovered near the damaged power cable after the shutdown. The 17-mile-long machine was built underground in the France-Switzerland border.
“We had electrical problems, and we are pretty sure this was caused by a small animal,” said Arnaud Marsollier, head of press for CERN.
It looked like a weasel did it, even though the remains make it tough to be absolutely sure.
“We are in the countryside, and of course, we have wild animals everywhere,” Marsollier added.
First powered up in 2008, the Large Hadron Collider is composed of a 17-mile ring of superconducting magnets, which have a number of “accelerating structures” enhancing the particles’ energy making their way through the device.
This highly renowned atom smasher has played a vital role in scientific discoveries such as the detection of a pentaquark, a subatomic particle forecast in the 1960s, though it did not come to light for decades. These building blocks compose hadrons, among which the most common are protons and neutrons.
The Large Hadron Collider gave the first evidence of the Higgs boson particle in 2012, which is also nicknamed “God particle”, indicating how other particles obtain their mass.
Marsollier agreed that the collider would be dysfunctional till the middle of May.
The rodent has played a role in barely one month since the atom smasher began to show physics data for the first time in 27 months, after two years of shutting down and re-commissioning. Just before the setback, the Large Hadron Collider was running full time for three years.
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